Dealing with Debt: How to Deal with Debt Collectors or Collection Agencies
Debt collectors and collection agencies can be some of the most stressful people to deal with. While most of them truly want to negotiate terms that benefit both the creditor and the consumer, their jobs depend on how much they can collect. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission regulates how far they can go to collect money. Since they are forced to be civil and professional, there is no longer any need to duck their calls.
And, in fact, you shouldn’t avoid them. The longer you put off dealing with debt, the bigger it becomes, until you may be forced to file bankruptcy or even lose most of what you own. It benefits both the debt collector and you to work out mutually acceptable arrangements, and be truthful with them about your situation.
Disputing Charges That Are Not Your's
If you feel you don’t owe the debt, dispute the charges immediately. Each state has its own statute of limitations with regard to filing claims like this—don’t miss yours. The right to dispute charges on your account is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, although you must notify both your creditor and the collection agency of this dispute if they are not the same company. Go to www.ftc.gov to research the proper channels if you don’t get satisfactory responses from the collection agency.
Dealing with Old Debt
If you have an old debt someone is trying to make you pay, if it’s outside the statute of limitations and you agree to pay it you are renewing the time period and the debt is collectible. Check with an attorney before allowing anyone to bully you into paying off an old debt or charge-off.
Make Sure You Have Documentation
Once you have negotiated your debt with a collection agent, get documentation. That way if another agent contacts you or you call the agency, you will have written proof that such arrangements exist. Get documentation from the agency once your debt is paid, and make sure your credit report reflects this.
Stand Your Ground -- Don't Permit Abuse or Harassment
Above all, don’t let debt collectors and collection agency personnel abuse or intimidate you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act restricts the manner in which a debt can be collected from consumers. Debt collectors and collection agencies may only contact you between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. They are not permitted to call you at work if your employer does not approve. They are not allowed to harass you or lie to you when attempting to collect debts. Abusive conduct is also prohibited. Also, they must stop contacting you if you request in writing that they do so.
In the end, by following these steps and pointers, you will be well on your way to resolving issues relating to matters of bad credit. You will be well on your way to putting your financial house in order. In the not to distant future, you will have more option available to you as bad credit becomes a thing of the past.